Food Service / Restaurants

Experience Meets Innovation

The restaurant/food service business is one of the toughest out there. Thin margins, a highly competitive market with a plethora of brands (established and new, national and local), significant dependence on economic conditions of both customers and commodities, competition from outside the category driving eat-at-home occasions – just to name a few challenges.

At RTi, we have the experience and understanding to help.

Whether Quick Serve, Fast Casual, or Casual Dining, clients have counted on us to help them deliver experiences that keeps the customer coming back.

Our restaurant and food service clients benefit in two ways:


Our team has years of experience in the category and significant experience to draw from in helping to support our clients’ success.


RTi uniquely leverages its vast knowledge base of tools, techniques, and methods developed for CPG and financial services to benefit the restaurant space. We bring the learning and innovations from these typical heavy users of research to bear for our clients in the restaurant space.

Our solutions for Food Service and Restaurant clients include:

  • Concept and signage optimization
  • Menu development and optimization
  • Brand strategy and extendibility
  • Market structure and segmentation

Consumer Packaged Goods

And we have even developed full marketing research strategies for some brands new to leveraging custom research.

RTi in Action


A fast casual restaurant had an idea for an app in hopes of improving the ordering process for catering services and needed to assess customer reactions and potential uptake.


RTi created storyboards to graphically illustrate the app and new ordering process and interviewed current catering customers to understand their interest in the new idea. Results indicated that while overall reactions were positive, the new ordering process was unlikely to generate significantly higher catering sales. As a result, the client determined that further development efforts were not worthwhile and suspended their planned investment.


Declining sales and low commodity costs led a fast food restaurant to consider expanding their “meal deal” menu to attract value-conscious consumers.


The possible meal deal components were so varied and complex that a traditional Menu Based Discrete Choice model could not accommodate the scope of analysis. In order to meet the client’s needs, RTi’s marketing science guru created a custom Discrete Choice exercise. Many key insights were uncovered and are being utilized in-restaurant, including item bundling, price structures, regional targeting opportunities, and more.


The fast food industry is a crowded and competitive environment with virtually all competitors vying to become “craveable”. Our client needed guidance to help inform future advertising campaigns and menu board promotions. Messaging input needs ranged from how to convey freshness, high quality ingredients, and “craveable” offerings in a believable and meaningful way.


Using MaxDiff analysis, RTi was able to identify and prioritize key language that would generate the most interest in ordering at their fast food restaurant. Additionally, RTi explored the impact of combinations of phrases via TURF analysis to create more comprehensive messaging recommendations.


A leading restaurant chain asked RTi: How can we continue to promote our standard offerings, while freeing up menu “real estate” to advertise a growing number of special promotions?


RTi found the answer in a hybrid quant/qual approach that provided rank order insights on various menu designs and the item categories within. The hybrid approach also let the client hear the consumer’s voice on which signage areas were confusing and which were helpful and appealing. Based on this research, RTi provided a detailed roadmap on how to further improve the winning menus and ‘lessons’ for future in-store menus and signage.